My Abortion #36: My Rite of Passage

Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.

At twenty-seven, Sarah made a difficult choice that went against all the norms she grew up with as a Mexican, and Catholic girl. Today she is grateful because the experience gave her the opportunity to have a different life. This is her story.

There have been many moments in my life where I asked myself how I got to where I was. Sometimes it was to compliment a success, other times it was to contemplate a misfortune. At twenty-eight I was grateful to avoid an affair with a married man because I didn’t need to add another unmentionable that would cause me to cast more shame upon myself. Not many people knew about it back then, but I chose to have an abortion at the age of twenty-seven. It was the most difficult decision I made as a woman, simply because it went against all the social norms I grew up with as a Mexican, Catholic girl.

I moved to Miami on a whim after a great New Year’s Eve trip in 2000. I spent the first six months of my relocation living off savings while exploring the beaches and nightlife. Three months into the stay, I started dating a guy who I knew would be a temporary distraction. He attended a local art school and had travelled to places I had yet aspired to visit—like New York, Turkey and Europe. Unfortunately our encounter left me six-weeks pregnant without knowing—one-week away form being denied an abortion. In my eyes I was a cliché. How could I not know I was pregnant? We had practiced “safe sex” and even experimented with various forms of birth control. Nevertheless, I didn’t think twice when we ended the relationship, especially since my menstrual cycle went on as scheduled. It wasn’t until the second month after I stopped seeing him that I missed my first period. I had not been with anyone else during those months so I was caught a bit off-guard when I found myself vomiting violently at a Sunday brunch. In midst of the torment, I joked about the possibility of being pregnant by stating, “I should totally claim Immaculate Conception…” because that would at least be an attempt to appease my Mexican-Catholic family. A few days later, a girlfriend accompanied me through various pregnancy tests that kept affirming my worst fear. I was pregnant, single and unemployed.

When I confronted the ex-lover, he answered the door half naked and with a new girlfriend standing behind him. Rather than asking what I wanted, he blatantly offered to pay for the abortion. That same day, the ex-lover’s mother called me to speak of her past abortions and irresponsible son. At the time, I only had a week to make a decision. Ironically, it was the ex-lover’s mother who convinced me—she ended up paying for her son’s and my “little problem,” a term she used throughout the one-hour phone call.

I chose the less intrusive abortion process. I hesitantly swallowed a pill and inserted tablets to induce a miscarriage. I had only confided in two people, one being the girlfriend who helped me throughout the process and my youngest sister—as a sister of three, we promised to always let one of us know if we had some sort of “big problem.” Yet, I never expected the emotional process to inflict the depression and insecurities that led me to change my life in the years to come. Immediately after swallowing the initial pill at the women’s clinic, I broke down and cried. A nurse passing-by inquired about my emotions and the only words I could get out were, “He is going to be so disappointed in me.” She then discouraged from going through with the abortion and encouraged me to speak to my boyfriend, but by then it was too late. I explained that I had already taken the pill and I was referring to my deceased father, not my “stupid ex-boyfriend.” I knew then I made a bad choice.

After having to return for a second dose a week later because the first attempt wasn’t fully effective, I vowed to change my life for the sake of justifying the one I took. I started applying for full-time employment and focusing on getting a career. A couple months later, I was hired and six months after that I was offered a promotion. I never spoke about the abortion again.

Not for another ten years. Once I began speaking about it to other women, they too confided in me about their no so little problems. Now at 42, I catch myself wondering how old my child would be. She would be 15 this year. I say she, because every woman I know has sacrificed some part of their life for someone else—grandmothers, mothers, aunts, godmothers, sisters, and best friends. She would be the quintessential 15-year-old girl, a quinceañera, going through a rite of passage. But here’s the thing, after 15 years of reflection I don’t regret it anymore. I am grateful. I am grateful for her. She gave me the opportunity to have a different life. Imagine, a person I never met taught me the biggest lesson in life—I learned to accept myself and my choices, I learned to love me.

Sarah Rafael García is a writer, community educator and traveler. Since publishing Las Niñas, she founded Barrio Writers and her writing appears in LATINO Magazine, Contrapuntos III, Outrage, La Tolteca Zine, Lumen Magazine, among others. García is the Editor for the annual Barrio Writers anthology and Co-editor of the pariahs writing from outside the margins anthology.

In 2016, García was featured in The Fem Literary Magazine and awarded for Santana’s Fairy Tales, which is supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, through a grant supporting the Artist-in-Residence initiative at Grand Central Art Center in California.

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